December 2024 will mark the 40th anniversary of the worst industrial accident in history — the release of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) from a chemical plant at Bhopal, India, that killed thousands. Since that fateful incident, significant progress has been made in enhancing industrial safety, with valuable lessons in process safety learned and implemented to prevent such horrors from recurring. However, memories fade, and it is crucial to prioritize process safety to avoid repeating past mistakes.
To foster ongoing awareness, the IChemE Safety Centre (ISC), the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center (MKOCPSC), the European Process Safety Centre (EPSC), and the Fire and Blast Information Group (FABIG) are joining together to launch International Process Safety Week, Dec. 2-6, 2024.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to collaborate and enhance process safety worldwide,” says Trish Kerin, director of the ISC and Stay Safe columnist for Chemical Processing. “Any contribution we make to raise awareness in the industry will ultimately benefit process safety for everyone."
Shakeel Kadri, executive director and CEO of CCPS, stresses the need for unrelenting vigilance in process safety and how the International Process Safety Week aims to promote this vigilance. He emphasizes the critical need to remember past preventable incidents, such as Bhopal, and calls on all stakeholders to unite and commit to learning, sharing and working toward a “World without Process Safety Incidents.”
Echoing Kerin and Kadri's sentiments, Tijs Koerts, operations director EPSC, states, “Working together to protect society from consequences of hazardous operations is more important than ever – that is what the International Process Safety Week is about."
The weeklong virtual event will offer several educational opportunities, including webinars featuring industry experts sharing insights and experiences in process safety management, best practices and the latest trends; panel discussions that will exchange ideas and discuss challenges and solutions in maintaining a safe work environment; and case studies that will offer real-world examples of process safety incidents, their root causes and the lessons learned.
“Making Safety Second Nature. It is a common thread we all inspire to learn and improve. A Global Process Safety week unifies our thoughts and commitment to continuous improvement to have zero-incidents," adds Faisal Khan, director of the MKOCPSC, which was established in 1995 in memory of Mary Kay O’Connor, an operations superintendent who was killed in an explosion on Oct. 23, 1989 at the Phillips Petroleum Complex in Pasadena, Texas.
“Control of all situations that could lead to a major accident is inherent to operational excellence, which is the cornerstone of our industrial activities. This international week is the result of the close and exemplary collaboration of various international industrial organizations,” says Pol Hoorelbeke, chair EPSC, chair FABIG, vice president Major Risk Division of TotalEnergies.